Day 4 : Music exchange with El Monte High School; Guided tour of Sony Picture Studios; Workshop with Dr Jo-Michael Scheibe; Performance at University of Southern California
Imagine an American high school out of the movies or TV; well, this was what our Choir was faced with. The girls felt like they were walking onto a movie set except that this was real.
Music is one of the few things that can bring people together in an instant. As we entered the auditorium, their music group came to greet us and it was such a warm and genuine welcome. The two choirs (theirs and ours) interacted like they'd know each other forever. Even our normally shy girls were in the thick of it and talking to our hosts.
And then the singing started. They taught us one of their songs and sang a few more; then it was our turn and we shared some Maori culture and waiata with them followed by a lunch put on by them. You would have thought these two choirs have known each other forever. They sang many impromptu songs together and just hung out.
Too soon, it was time to go to our next stop, Sony Picture Studios. This wasn't too dissimilar to the quintessential American theme park but of significance and relevance was our visit to the Barbra Streisand Sound Stage - one of only two venues in the world (the other being Abbey Rd Studios (Beatles!, et al)) which have "perfect acoustics". This studio is where they record the score for movies (John Williams is a regular here) as well as contemporary music by the likes of Beyonce, Andrea Bocelli, etc. And this studio was built in the 1930s.
I don't know how they measure perfect acoustics but, apparently, even wallpaper affected the acoustics when they put it up a few years ago so they stripped it off quick smart.
Our girls had the privilege of actually singing on this stage. Another world first for Auckland Girls' Choir. How many choirs can say that they've sung at Sydney Opera House, Disneyland and the Barbara Streisand Sound Stage? Trust me: not many, if any at all.
Next stop was University of Southern California where our girls finally met up, or caught up again, with Andy Eisenmann, who will be hosting us in Palm Springs in a few days. Andy took the day off to come and see the girls - this is how much he was looking forward to seeing us again.
We also had our workshop with Dr Scheibe, which was invaluable. It was enlightening and heartening to know that what Dr Scheibe was teaching the girls was in line with what we've been trying to teach them. I suppose, hearing it from a different voice/person, meant that this was better received and actioned by the girls; things like projection, interpretation of the music; building up sufficient air to support your voice, and so on.
*** This concert, for me, was the sign that said that our girls were finally ready! And, further, it vindicated the many extra workshops that the girls had to endure as it really brought out the professionalism and quality of the Choir. Everything came together in so many ways and the girls sang beautifully.
Day 5 : Perform at University Veterans' Centre and visit San Diego zoo.
The girls had a great day out at San Diego zoo which was bisected by a performance at the above centre.
It was an eye opener for the girls to visit the centre and perform for its elderly residents. Again, the girls gave an excellent account of themselves with one of the residents even inviting us back.
Dinner was at the Spaghetti Factory followed by the 2 hour bus trip home to Anaheim.
Another successful day it turned out to be.
Our girls are holding up exceptionally well. By now, you will have seen that the tour programme is packed with lots to see and do. The nights are long and the mornings are ... early! However, the girls are coping well and rising up to the rigours of touring.
But, more importantly, the girls are learning so much from the experience. You can hear this in their voices and you can see it in their faces when performing.
There is no question that this tour has been very successful to date.